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Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Charles and Camilla: a long friendship
Prince Charles: Camilla holds a
Prince Charles: Camilla holds a "non-negotiable" place in his heart
The friendship of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles has spanned more than 30 years.

But although they have never openly declared their true feelings for one another, the prince has said Camilla holds a "non-negotiable" place in his heart.

  • They first met when they were both in their 20s in 1970 at Windsor polo match

  • Camilla married army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973 and the couple divorced in 1995

  • The 1992 "Camillagate" tape of telephone conversation revealed the intimacy of their relationship when it was made public

  • In 1998, Camilla met Princes William and Harry for the first time

  • In an historic appearance, Charles and Camilla were finally seen and photographed together in 1999. They left the Ritz hotel together after the birthday party of Camilla's sister

  • In August 1999, Camilla accompanied Charles and his sons on a holiday to the Greek islands

  • In June 2000, the Queen first recognised the relationship by attending a function where Camilla was also present

Their relationship has been a contentious one, not least because Diana, Princess of Wales said she saw Camilla as a background figure in her marriage to Prince Charles.

But since the death of Diana in 1997, public support for Charles and Camilla has gradually grown.

Camilla has maintained silence about relationship with the prince
Camilla has maintained silence about relationship with the prince
The pair have been seen together at a number of functions, although until recently they were careful never to arrive or leave together.

The prince kissed Camilla on both cheeks at a charity event in London last month, the first such public display of affection between the couple.

The media has taken a keen interest in the couple, discussing the prospect of the future King and head of the Church of England marrying a divorcée.

Camilla does not appear to want to compromise her lifestyle by becoming Queen, however, and has shunned the limelight. She has refused to discuss her relationship with the prince with anyone outside her close circle of friends.

Camilla: love of the outdoors
Camilla: Love of the outdoors
But the issue of marriage hit the headlines when the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Michael Turnbull, said he thought it would be possible for Charles to remarry.

He said Charles could still maintain the moral authority to become head of the Church of England on his accession to the throne.

He added that marriage was "more desirable morally" than the situation of "flux" that they were in.

But Charles and Camilla remained cautious.

Distance maintained

When they attended the wedding of Santa Palmer-Tomkinson and writer Simon Sebag-Montefiore in 1998, they arrived and left separately.

They did not sit together or talk to one another during the reception.

But the publication of Penny Junor's controversial book marking Prince Charles's 50th birthday led the couple to show unity.

In a joint statement, both rejected allegations that they were behind the book, and distanced themselves from its content.

Since appearing in public together for the first time, the couple have shared holidays together and have made joint appearances at charity dinners and performances.

Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles
The couple hosted a gala dinner together last year
But it was not until June last year that the Queen formally recognised the relationship, meeting Mrs Parker Bowles for the first time in years when they both attended a lunch for the ex-Greek King Constantine.

The Queen had reportedly refused even to acknowledge Camilla's existence since allegations emerged over her role in the breakdown of Charles and Diana's marriage.

Charles was said to be delighted at his mother's change of heart.

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